The Cost of Hedonistic Living: One Beautiful Moscow Weekend Experiment

One who loves Moscow, loves it in a truly hedonistic way. Actually, it might be the only possible way to love this city, and besides, quite an expensive way. We decided to find out how much it costs to live pleasantly (not just being present) in Moscow, based on the example of one wonderful and intense weekend in the city.

Spoiler for lazy asses: it’s damn expensive!

Day 1

So, imagine: you and a friend are office clerks, and therefore you greet each Saturday as manna from heaven. And because the weather is treating you well, you decide to celebrate such a day with a huge yummy breakfast at a cozy café in the city center. After quickly searching through the restaurant guide, you pick Bulka café on Pokrovka street.

Let’s say, your breakfast for two consists of one millet porridge with pumpkin, one fresh juice, cheese casserole with mango-lassi and cappuccinos for each. 1 850 rubles ($29.40) for all of it.

Being active and enthusiastic people, you devote part of your weekend to sports. Today is not an exception. Let’s say, your gym is located in the area of the metro station, Sportivnaya. One of you is a regular customer and passes through with a member’s card; the other pays for a drop in. It equals 1 300 rubles ($20.70).

Those who work out hard, eat well. So you’re going to get some well-deserved food at Obed Bufet, where lunch for two usually costs around 800 rubles ($12.70). Let’s say, you got one turkey cutlet with pearl barley, rice cooked with eggs (Georgian style), fried mushrooms and cranberry juice.

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Well, it’s already 3pm., which means coffee time! Here in the Arbat area there are plenty of coffee spots, but the ideal coffee – your preferred one in the whole city of Moscow at least – is at Coffee Bean. Keeping in mind that it’s a beautiful Fall Saturday outside, which already is a blessing, you decide to treat fully yourself and go for two flat-whites, choco-currant cake and a fruit&nut bar. You accept – 850 rubles ($13.50).

After that, you’ve got plans for a squash session. Yes, active and enthusiastic! Luckily, but not in the favor of your pocket, this city is able to satisfy any of your needs and desires easily. So you go to the golf club “Krylatskoye”, where the cost of renting a squash court, a ball and wo rackets overall turns into 1 750 rubles ($27.80).


After the game – a light dinner at Botanica cafe: grilled dorada with cabbages, green salad and fried rice with omelette and vegetables. In sum, it’s about 1 700 rubles ($27).

That’s how your day comes to an end, and if you live within the city, then your expenses are completed for today. If you’re just visiting, being, for instance, one of St. Pete’s bohemian hipsters or maybe even being local you just want some romance instead of dragging yourself to Khimki after a busy day in the midst of the weekend, then surely you’d prefer to stay in a small boutique hotel, with which the center of Moscow is abound.

A night in a comfortable, decent, but not frilly room will cost you 5 000 rubles ($79.60) for two, a comprehensive breakfast buffet is included.

Day 2

Voila! While you were dreaming, Sunday comes. You have breakfast at the hotel (those who made it home the day before, make oatmeal and coffee themselves).

Breakfast was supposed to energize you fully, but hedonism remains your strongest point. It drives you to take a big walk around the city center even if the weather is so-so. As you know, in Moscow you only have to state the will, and the embodiment won’t make you wait too long. A pleasant and informative promenade – please, here you go – a nice tour around Varvarka, one of the most rich for monuments, one of the oldest and most interesting districts of Moscow. This and other fascinating walks around Moscow are regularly scheduled by Punktum cultural center. We paid 800 rubles ($12.70) for two tickets.

After your walk, a little tired but full of new experiences, you of course go to Obed Bufet and eat. Your appetite is boosted thanks to the fresh autumn air, but your lunch for two still looks very moderate: a chicken breast, steamed vegetables, rice, fruit salad and carrot juice. It turns into about 700 rubles ($11).

You’ve eaten, what’s left is to fade the remaining signs of fatigue away with a good cup of coffee.  And since you’re already in the Arbat area, you walk several minutes to a favorite Starbucks branch on Old Arbat street, which is always full of tourists.

And you’re not wrong! Ordering a double cappuccino each (700 rubles or $11), you sit down at a large communal table in the center of the room and find yourself in the midst of a fascinating conversation of young foreigners. What do you think it’s about? Clearly, it’s about Russian girls. A perky Lebanese man just told a story of how a couple of years ago he first came to Moscow for the sake of his beloved, and she, after a brief affair with him, ran away, taking with her half a million rubles in compensation. In simple Russian language, she tricked him badly.

The guy, however, proved to be resilient. He got a job as an English teacher in a kindergarten and continued to enjoy life in the best city in the world. As he himself put it, “I love Moscow due to it’s simple society.” Without trying to understand the essence of such a statement, you read it as a compliment and go back to your stuff.


Again, you’ve got a super location from which you undoubtedly should extract the maximum profit! Why not walk to Gogolevsky boulevard and take a look at the Stephen Balkenhol exhibition at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art? Two tickets cost 600 rubles ($9.50), but, my gosh, the show is worth it!

Spending a good half hour at the museum looking at the beauty of art and filming tons of Instagram stories, you, full of impressions, get back to where you started, taking the same route. Only the city is now shrouded in the evening twilight, and colorful lights and bulbs awaken some festive mood.

Speaking of festivals, in fact today is the very day you have been waiting the whole week for–because of the showing of a new film by Xavier Dolan called “This is just the end of the world”. Vincent Cassel plays the lead role there. A French movie, especially with such a cast, especially as the winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, has to be watched only in the original version, in French. Fortunately, this possibility is offered by a number of cinemas in Moscow. You have chosen “Pioneer”. Two tickets cost you 1 200 rubles ($19) – those who work hard, play hard!

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After watching such an inspiring movie, eating a third-tier quality dinner would go against fundamental hedonistic beliefs. And, on the contrary, quite in the spirit of the capital lifestyle would be to loop the cozy “Bulka” cafe into the weekend, ordering just like real rebels, a typical continental breakfast meal for dinner. Two dishes of eggs (scrambled with salmon and tomatoes and double fried eggs with a salad of spinach) and a couple of drinks – 1 400 rubles ($22.30).

That’s all! Now you can say, you’ve had a textbook hedonistic weekend in the best city on Earth!

During these two days, depending on how you moved around the city – using the subway or car sharing, Uber or your own a car, you have spent some 1 000 to 4 000 rubles ($16-$64) on logistics, and the total cost over the weekend has reached, at the maximum scenario, 22 000 rubles. Today, at the end of October 2016, it’s equal to something between $312-$360.

A Sort of Conclusion

Well, Moscow is focused on those who have hunger, it is generous, full of opportunities and benevolent only towards those who are able to use those goods in the same generous way.

I understand why it seems angry and uncozy for many people. It is really so, I suppose, if you live somewhere in Zhulebino, every day spending an hour and a half trying to get to the office, and your biggest Sunday entertainment is to visit Auchan. Yes, everyone has his own reasons to live life that way and not another. Not everyone can relate to such hedonistic whim. But I am convinced that Moscow was created to be loved. I must admit, however: it is a very costly love…

About Yana 135 Articles
Journalist by education, barstool philosopher by heart. Moskvaer. Rebel. Frustrated hedonist.

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